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Press Release - November 5, 2018
Texas Regionalism Featured in Heritage Auctions’ Texas Art Auction
Natural elements paint dramatic picture of life in Lone Star State
"Texas Regionalism is a very distinct style of art, one that inspires a strong base of collectors through dramatic, often stark portrayals of life in various parts of the state,” Heritage Auctions Texas Art Director Atlee Phillips said. "It’s less about geography and more about a way of life that is captured brilliantly by several artists in this auction.”
Charles Taylor Bowling West Texas Tank, 1940 (est. $20,000-30,000) is an extraordinary oil-on-canvas of a West Texas tank by an artist who didn’t even start painting until his mid-30s, while recovering from an illness. In this painting, he combines elements of realism, surrealism and modernism in a style that conveys his own inner vision of rural life at the end of the Great Depression. Bowling strays from the practice by many regionalist artists, who rely on eerie stillness to convey the psychological and physical isolation of human existence in wide-open West Texas. But Bowling’s inclusion of a fast-spinning windmill and ominous storm clouds increases the anxiety and vulnerability of those trying to endure the elements.
One of the more intriguing lots in the auction is Alexandre Hogue Untitled, 1976 (estimate: $10,000-15,000), in which the artist is exploring the style he called "Abstract Realism.” Hogue believed that naturalism or true realism is not possible, that by attempting to create a realistic landscape, artists naturally change reality to fit their ideas. Rather than trying to portray the river as it appeared, Hogue has used formal abstraction, undulating lines, dynamic composition and unusual colors to present the river the way he saw it internally.
Julian Onderdonk A Fall Day (estimate: $10,000-15,000) is a stunning painting by a bi-regional artist with significant ties to both Texas and New York, where he studied for eight years. The more the demand for his artwork grows, both in and outside the state of Texas, the more recognition his paintings get as examples of American Impressionism which transcend any regional classification. This 14-by-20-inch oil-on-canvas is signed in the lower right with the artist’s pseudonym: "Chas. Turner.”
The auction includes five works by Velox Benjamin Ward, a self-taught memory painter who began his first painting when he was nearly 60 years old, as a gift to his grand-daughter; within a few years, he was viewed as a major creative contributor to the genre of "folk art” or "primitivism” and is part of the permanent collections at institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum and the Fort Worth-based Amon Carter Museum. Among the paintings from his estate in the auction:
· Velox Benjamin Ward Wash Day at Spring, 1963 (estimate: $6,000-8,000) portrays a ritual that was a way of life: doing laundry in rivers and springs, with clothes subsequently draped over tree branches to dry. The 16-by-22-inch oil-on-board painting is signed and dated lower left: "Velox / Ward / .45 "-63.”
· Velox Benjamin Ward See You Next Saturday, 1961 (estimate: $5,000-7,000) follows his refusal to mimic other memory painters, who often relied on the idealized nostalgia of days gone by, and instead tried to infuse is work with as much realism as possible. This 24-3/4-by-24-3/4-inch oil-on-panel painting, which is signed and dated lower center "Velox / 10/61. Ward/29” was created less than two years after he began to paint, capturing a scene repeated at the end of weekly services at small-town churches across the state.
The auction also includes two paintings by Gerry Williamson "Jerry” Bywaters, a noted 20th century artist, university professor, museum director, art critic and Texas historian.
· Gerry Williamson "Jerry” Bywaters Spudder in the Panhandle, The Humble Way interior illustration, 1949 (estimate: $5,000-7,000), in watercolor on paper laid on board, shows the erection of an oil pump in the Texas panhandle. The artist was one of several Texas Regionalists who completed illustrations for the oil industry.
· Gerry Williamson "Jerry” Bywaters Stores in Shafter, 1938 (estimate: $3,000-5,000), in watercolor and pencil on paper, a classic example of Texas Regionalism that brings to mind poverty, isolation, uncertainty and decay found in many rural towns at the end of the Great Depression. Shafter is a Southwest Texas town about 20 miles from the border outside what is now Big Bend National Park; often referred to as a ghost town, Shafter had a reported population of 11 in the 2000 census. A leading member of a group of young Texas Regionalists and Modernists, Bywaters completed many paintings in the 1930s and 1940s based on the people, places and industries of north or west Texas.
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
· Frank Reaugh West Texas (estimate: $6,000-8,000)
· David Bates The Juggler (estimate: $5,000-7,000)
· Lee N. Smith Dangerous Ground, 1991 (estimate: $5,000-7,000)
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
The Internet’s most popular auction-house website, HA.com, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.
Steve Lansdale, Public Relations Specialist
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